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It’s time to take a fresh look at a big problem — physician access. In a 2008 Arista survey of pharmaceutical managers, almost 90% reported a decrease in face to face physician access over the past five years. What was surprising was the magnitude of the prob lem; pharmaceutical managers ranked physician access as their No. 1 marketing challenge, saying it was more troublesome than competition, product weaknesses, or salesforce limitations. As I pondered the data, I noticed an odd kink in the way the access issue was being approached. To be blunt, the wrong ques tions are being asked. The tendency is to ask marketerfocused ques tions such as “What do doctors think of my marketing tactics?” and “How can I make our salesforce more appealing?” Instead, marketers should ask physicianfocused questions such as “What type of prac ticerelated information do doctors need?” and “When and where do they go to find the information they need?” Helping doctors get the information they need — serving their needs more completely — will help companies gain access to them. So what do doctors need? WHEREPHYSICIANS LOOK FOR INFORMATION There is the assumption that doctors think they already have all the answers and therefore don’t need new information. Wrong, doc tors need and want new information. . PCPs encounter more than 500 clinical topics each year, and they use about 2 million information bytes to manage patients. Most of the information is obtained from memory, and some of it is wrong. . About half of patient visits result in practicerelated questions that can’t be answered from the physician’s memory. . To answer these questions, doctors typically engage in two types of information seeking. The first is intravisit factfinding; about 60% of questions occur in the exam room and take about 20 sec onds to answer. The second type is intervisit research, questions that require 5 to 10 minutes or longer to answer. . Factfinding is commonly done with PDAs; especially for check ing drug references and clinical guidelines. . Research increasingly occurs via computers/Internet, usually during breaks in the day or at home after work. The top Internet resources used by PCPs are drug information sites; they use these more than Medline, journals, or textbooks. SERVING PHYSICIANS’ INFORMATIONNEEDS There are several ways marketers can use technology to serve physicians’ information needs. For intravisit factfinding, PDAs are vital, especially in the hands of PCPs. They love PDAbased tools such as dosage calculators, lab standards, and clinicalpractice guide lines. Many PDA applications are free downloads; a major opportu nity is to serve the information needs of doctors. Marketers should identify for their brand or disease category several topquality PDA downloads that can help doctors improve their productivity. They Contributed by Shelley Spencer should make these downloads available on their professionalsonly Website, and then guide physicians to the site. For intervisit research, the Internetconnected PC is where the action is. Fortunately, the leading Internet resources used by PCPs are drug information sites. According to the report eHealth Solu tions for Pharma from Business Insights, drugspecific Websites are popular with doctors for several reasons: . They are provided by every major manufacturer. . They are considered trustworthy sources of information. . They are specific to the immediate needs of physicians. . They are the most highly advertised online resources. The challenge is to ensure these sites meet doctors’ needs. Unfor tunately, current sites are often uninviting, static, and just plain bor ing. They lack the creative and technological features that attract and engage physicians. There are things that can be done better, such as: . Better Content. The eHealth Solutions report suggests improv ing professionalsonly Websites by upgrading professional devel opment content, including product and disease information, CME opportunities, and online forums; patient resources, including educational materials, disease management and com pliance tools, and clinical trial information; and clinical tools. . Better Interactivity. A number of Websitebased tools can help doctors get the information they want while helping companies gain access: true esampling (no phone, fax, or signature); Web chats, whereby physicians can request realtime support or service providers can proactively send a request to a site visitor; on demand video detailing, live interactive discussions via phone and Webcam to answer physicians’ specific questions; and event regis tration, whereby doctors can selfregister for upcoming peer events, view preevent material, and download postevent content. This approach is really a simple formula: Gain access to doctors by helping them access the information they need. It’s an idea that’s stood the test of time: “He who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own.” — Confucius (551 BC — 479 BC) Shelley Spencer is President of Arista Marketing Associates, Blue Bell, Pa. Arista specializes in physician access beyond facetoface detailing and creates live conversations with doctors ranging from twominute teledetails, to 20 minute Webbased video details, to twohour peertopeer teleconferences. For more information, visit aristamktg.com. PharmaVOICE welcomes comments about this article.Email us at email@example.com. SHELLEY SPENCER A FRESH LOOK AT PHYSICIAN ACCESS IF IT’S BROKE,FIX IT I To access a FREE WebSeminar on this topic featuring Shelley Spencer, President, Arista, go to pharmavoice.com/MDaccess. 84 Ap r i l 2008 PharmaVOICE 0408 Layout FINAL MW 3/21/08 11:45 AM Page 84